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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Karen H M Belden. Ballads and Songs-Unfortunate Rake (47) RE: H M Belden. Ballads and Songs-Unfortunate Rake 25 Jun 18


I am really grateful for this. So nice of people. As Jim is probably aware, I am contributing to what I just found out could be called a 'historiographical piece' on this song, and am doggedly tracing back references. And to respond when there are window frames to be painted! Really appreciated. And his sources too, some of which I have already seen, some seem new. This will keep me 'out of trouble' as they say for a while!

To Joe: sorry to muddle threads. I'm not very good at Mudcatting yet. But it is an amazing enterprise; many thanks. I know it's often *called* The Unfortunate Rake, but I am avoiding that title on principle at the moment, or at least until I find an old song in that family actually using that title (as opposed to A L Lloyd's version/s).


I have read about Belden and yes it seems his collecting work was amazing.

Heat wave here, desperate roofers knocking on door (house being roofed/rooved? not occupied begging for water! I'm inside with the curtains shut, keeps out the pollen too. And not watching football.

If you are not obsessively interested in why so many people refer to 'The Unfortunate Rake' when there seems to be no direct evidence that such a song existed in England or Ireland (not one in this family), stop reading now! But if you feel inclined to debate, happy to!

I wanted to see what Belden says as another oldish article I read possibly cited Belden as an authority for various assertions about the origin of this song. So, being the occard sort who likes to trace references back, I wanted to see what Belden DID say, as people didn't always, I feel, take care to be wholly accurate or to reference their claims. And it looks as if this is another example. To explain the chain, it goes backwards from the Liner Notes to the Unfortunate Rake LP to an American writer called Lodewick.


Lodewick's paragraph goes as follows:


"Other versions are called, variously, 'The Unfortunate Rake' and 'The Irish Rake' from Ireland and 'The Unfortunate Lad' 'The Rakish Fellow' 'St James Hospital' and 'The Rambling Boy' all from England. Copies of these versions were originally published as stall ballads or broadsides during the early 19th century and are now rare. These versions are generally reported as too vulgar to publish. However, several sources quote choruses all identical with the following .."


Lodewick then quotes the last verse of the Such Broadside, citing Belden. I wondered if he was citing Belden as the source for all this songs, and the assertion that they were all published as early 19th century broadsides. It would appear not. But then there is no reference for Lodewick's claim that St James hospital was from Englaned (this is an inference discussed elsewhere, which I am not convinced by).

So to answer my own questions:


1 The only St James words Belden refers to are Lomax (about whom people have said that the actual words he collected are not audible, and who admits to having tinkered with his cowboy songs) and Sharp. He does not even cite the Novia Scotia version with those words (are the dates wrong).

He is inferring that St James was the original place, and is maybe the earliest I have come across to make a guess about where in England the lock hospital was, citing Harrow Road. The London Lock Hospital was in Harrow Road from 1842, and seems to have become all female in 1862, and was expanded after the Contagious Diseases Acts.
I got this from Wiki.

2 It doesn't seem that any versions Belden collected were called 'The Unfortunate Rake'.

Belden says 'It is perhaps Irish' citing the My Jewel fragment and showing a healthy restraint about jumping to firm conclusions about this as Philips Barry did. Belden doesn't seem to have seen the Covent Garden version. I still can't work out which folklorists interested in this song found that particular version.

So Lodewick doesn't provide evidence for a lot of what he says.

Once again, many thanks.


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